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Seeking Letters of Peer Support for Toni: June & Summer 2024 Recipient!

Updated: Jun 3


Indiana 14-year-old finds strength through heartbreaking bullying by giving love to others.


Toni is a rising 9th Grader in Indiana.

Toni's stepmom says her graduating middle schooler is "outgoing, goofy" and an "amazing, strong little girl with a beautiful heart." The 14-year-old loves to write letters and is an avid reader of all kinds of books. She is a big fan of Spiderman and Eeyore from Winnie-The-Pooh. Toni collects stuffed animals (with over 200 at last count) but it's the live animals at her family's homestead in Indiana that she loves the most. Her favorite pet so far was Shadow the Fox, who recently passed away. When Toni is feeling down, she goes outside and "loves on her animals" including another fox, goats and chickens! Toni enjoys a close, blended family of her stepmom and 7 siblings - some pictured with her in the slideshow below.

When Toni grows up, she wants to be a Physical Therapist so she can help people who are physically struggling to get back to being independent.


Toni has a beautiful spirit and sense of fun! 🦊🐥💕



An 'UPstander' at heart, Toni always made a point of reaching out to struggling or bullied classmates to hang-out and talk with them. In 7th Grade, the bullies started targeting her too, just for 'being a friend.' Then, they elevated their cruelty to hurt her the most, verbally attacking her with so many lies and rumors, blaming her 'appearance' for her biological mother's absence. The bullying quickly escalated to include all types: verbal, physical, cyber and social exclusion.

As Toni's loving stepmom told a local News14 Reporter, “She has had a biscuit full of mashed potatoes, pickle juice and spit rubbed in her face ... my daughter has been hit in the ribs hard enough I had to take her to the ER. She couldn’t raise her arm. She couldn't breathe." Toni has been stabbed with pencils and metal objects that have broke the skin and had food smashed down her back. Several friends told Toni they couldn't be her friend any longer because the bullies didn't like her. Social bullying extended into gym class where no one would pick Toni for games. Cyber-bullying including harassing the 14-year-old with inappropriate pictures.

“Big things don’t happen all the time," Toni told the Reporter. “But people will say stuff or they [bump me] just cause I walk past them on a daily basis.”


Devastating, daily bullying has taken a toll on Toni's mental heath. Toni's stepmom told the Reporter that she and Toni "have reported the bullying to the school but aren’t being taken seriously ... Every time I call the school they say ‘it’s just kids being kids’ or ‘it’s horseplay.’ That’s not okay with me."

She told the Reporter she also went to the police who told her it was a school discipline issue: “I said ‘that’s not education if she’s getting hit and stabbed.’ That’s criminal, that’s not educational."

Toni loved school, but now she and her stepmom are considering homeschooling or switching districts to keep her physically and emotionally safe.


 

WATCH A YOUTUBE OF TONI'S STORY

by On-Air Teen Vlogger, Brielle Diaz Withers!




Ambassadors, we know that bullying is never just 'horseplay' or 'kids being kids', and it's clear that Toni is a victim of bullying. NO ONE DESERVES TO BE BULLIED EVER! Join us in sending kindness and peer support to help Toni heal from bullying. Your empathetic words and art WILL make a difference!


EVERY LETTER IS A GIFT.

THE MORE SUPPORT, THE GREATER THE IMPACT.

"CHANGE ONE LIFE AND YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. IT'S IN YOUR HANDS!"


TONI WILL HAVE A TWO-PART FRIEND MAIL DELIVERY!

SCHOOL GROUPS SEND YOUR FRIEND MAIL BY JUNE 30TH!


So many of our ambassador schools across the country break in May for the Summer, so we hope Toni's story will inspire the Educators and Club Leaders whose school years continue through June to send Friend Mail ASAP! We need you!


Toni will receive her first surprise bin of Friend Mail in July, and then we will turn to camps, agencies, clubs and individual students to fill the second surprise bin to be sent in late August! This is the BAFP's 2nd year continuing the Friend Mail Program through the summer break; we welcome ALL new summer ambassadors!




Mail "PHYSICAL" letters to:

Be A Friend Project

P.O. Box 30

Beacon, NY 12508


Email letters, videos, scans & Google Drive links, send to:

-OR-


Toni's Story June and Summer 2024
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.27MB



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